Cyclists roll into Corning, during Day 2 of RAGBRAI, a 440-mile bike ride across Iowa. Photo by Pam LeBlanc


Don’t believe anyone who tells you Iowa has no hills.

“Gargantuan, rolling hills!” someone screamed as we started slogging up another one, on Day 2 of RAGBRAI, a seven-day, 440-mile bike ride across Iowa.

About 10,000 people registered to do the entire ride. Thousands more bought day passes. Officials say more than 19,000 cyclists took to Iowa roads yesterday as part of the event.

Pam LeBlanc poses in front of a cornfield. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Last night we camped alongside about 400 other people on private property in the small town of Shenandoah.

It felt like Mardi Gras. Or Woodstock. Or something with lots of beer-fueled craziness, loud music and tents.


Cyclists relax in front of an Iowa farm house during RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

We also got a brief rain shower, followed by a double rainbow. (“Awesome double rainbow, dude!”)

This morning, we hit the road a little after 7 a.m., because we knew we had 75 miles to pedal.

Highlights of the ride?

Gooseberry pie.

Antique cars parked on the side of the road.

A sign advertising “the axe murder house.” (We didn’t stop, but many did.) The birthplace of Johnny Carson.


A double rainbow formed over Shenandoah, where cyclists camped after the first day of the seven-day RAGBRAI ride across Iowa. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

A roadside slip ’n slide stand. Food stands selling ham balls. A roadside farm animal petting zoo, complete with goats, lambs, pigs, chickens and cows. A “big boar.” (Or so another sign propped next to a trailer containing a pig read.)

My quads are tired and my neck hurts a little, but I’m loving this glimpse of rural Iowa.

We’ve pedaled through a dozen or so tiny towns, and everyone who lives in each one comes out to watch the parade. Folks sit on lawn chairs in their front yards and wave, farmers on tractors nod. Horns honk, kids holler and a few people even toss mardi gras beads.


Campers hang out in a swimming pool in Shenandoah after riding 50 miles on Day 1 of RAGBRAI. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Tomorrow we’ve got 59 miles on the agenda. And the day after that I’m staring down the barrel of a 100-mile day, if I decide to take the long option.

Cross your fingers my quads hold up.